timothy falconer's semantic weblog
Big Fractal Tangle

graphs and usability

Yesterday, I wrote about the need for new user interface metaphors, so more people can better visualize interconnectedness. There are several examples of the semantic graph approach, particularly the ThinkMap prototypes (such as the Visual Thesaurus), the TouchGraph browsers, and the IdeaGraph effort. Even demos such as foafcorp are a step in the right direction, but they’re just a step.

The goal, I think, is to create a semantic browser similiar to these efforts, but one that non-technical people can use immediately without much orientation. I’m hoping there’s a point where interconnected semantic graph navigation becomes extremely usable, where exploration becomes fluid and natural, where it doesn’t feel like some high-brow exercise, but something as easy as playing computer Solitaire.

Twenty years from now, I fully expect we’ll be looking back on the days of windows and hierarchy trees with nostalgic disbelief, for we’ll have graduated to three-dimensional interconnected interfaces. The first clues are already arriving in the new console games made for kids like Super Mario Sunshine and the new Zelda. These interfaces are more flexible, more powerful, more usable, than anything available in mainstream computing. Take the power of these game interfaces and marry it with semantic web content that people care about, and then we’ll have something.

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